|Mark Wahlberg in Deepwater Horizon (Summit Entertainment)|
There are two powerful scenes in the action/adventure/true story Deepwater Horizon that are pretty subtle and short. Blink and you’ll miss them. The first is when three of the main characters are taking a helicopter from the mainland over to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sitting in the Gulf of Mexico. Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) does the sign of the cross prayer. Another character looks over and shrugs. This trip is just another everyday trip for this crew and nothing really worth praying over, right? The second comes minutes before the end of the film where all of the survivors of the huge blowout explosion on the vessel get down on their knees and recite The Lord’s Prayer. In just a few short hours, the importance of prayer has risen significantly.
I have to say that Deepwater Horizon is the second film to really affect me emotionally this year. The first was just a week ago watching Queen of Katwe which was an inspiring film (and under-appreciated) on so many levels. This film was equally compelling, but for different reasons altogether. Director Peter Berg crafted a truly unique film that makes you feel as if you are a member of this crew and what they experience, you experience. The characters are real and the dialogues are real. I can’t say that I understand everything that they are saying throughout the movie, since I’ve never worked on an oil rig, but I understood enough of to really feel a part of the action and danger.
When the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon happened in April of 2010, I didn’t really appreciate all that had happened just by watching the news, but the event has gone down in history as one of the worst man-made disasters of all time and it is so frustrating to know that it shouldn’t have ever happened. Heading into the film, I knew that eleven of the 126 crew members would not make it out alive. I went from terror to anger in the span of less than two hours.
Deepwater Horizon actually starts fairly slow showing Mike Williams at home with his wife and daughter before heading out to sea for three weeks. They’re a happy family. Then, a scene of foreshadowing takes place where Williams’ daughter is sharing her class project about what her daddy does for a job. I don’t know if this scenario happened in real life or not, but if it did, I doubt that Williams real daughter was as elegant in her writing as actress Stella Allen portrays her to be. Her acting is excellent, but her lines are a little too perfect explaining how her father “tames the dragon” on the Deepwater Horizon. Kate Hudson plays Williams’ wife Felicia and isn’t given much to do to make her character all that compelling. However, these are my only negative notes about the movie. Once the story gets moving, the movie grabs you and won’t let you go until it’s over.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig was owned by BP but managed by Transocean. Despite the fact that the ship had numerous faulty systems and parts, the project was six weeks behind and BP didn’t want to spend any more money than they had to on the project. The film takes place right after a cement pouring had been done but possibly not tested properly afterward.
Kurt Russell plays Jimmy Harrell the offshore installation manager who has had it “up to here” with BP’s cost-cutting measures and has a showdown with Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) debating whether or not if everything is safe on the rig. Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) does an incredible job portraying Andrea Fleytas, the 23-year-old worker who called in the initial distress signal. (This girl can act!) She has a powerful scene sparing with Wahlberg during one of the most crucial scenes in the movie.
At its heart, Deepwater Horizon is a disaster movie, but unlike fictional movies in the past like The Towering Inferno, this one is unpredictable, jolting and very real. The actors don’t look like guest stars with their hair and bodies in perfect shape and when it is all said and done, they don’t just walk away slightly shaken up as the credits roll up the screen. They are wrecked. And we are too.